The Nitty Gritty on California Smog Checks

There are all kinds of odd situations that motorists have in California and need answers to before getting their Smog Check. This article reviews many of those unusual situations and offers some helpful tips and guidance.

In this scenario, imagine that you have reason to believe that you will not pass a Smog Check but are not sure. The Bureau of Automotive Repair in California suggests that you ask for an inspection before getting the official Smog Check. The reason you would do this is to avoid getting the branding of Gross Polluter with your vehicle. Of course, the Smog Check station may request a fee for pre-inspection services. Also, if you decide to get repairs before the Smog Check, keep in mind that none of those repairs can count toward any financial assistance you may be eligible for in the Consumer Assistance Program.

In another scenario, suppose that you have modified your engine. Do you have any hope of passing the Smog Check? The answer depends upon a few things. In general, you cannot modify your emissions control system. And if you have had your emissions system repaired, the parts must be approved for use in California. However, the Air Resources Board of California will allow you to perform modifications as long as they in no way decrease the effectiveness of your emissions control system. There is a list of EO exempted parts at the Air Resources Board website; EO or executive order parts have a number assigned to them to confirm their adequacy. You can search for an Executive Order number at in the aftermarket parts database.

Now suppose that your vehicle is in another state, but you received your California DMV renewal notice that you are due for another Smog Check. Should you have the Smog Check done out-of-state and have the results sent to your local DMV? The answer is no. Smog Checks done in any other state are not legitimate in California. You should contact the DMV with your Statement of Facts and the DMV will then send your vehicle registration tags to the out-of-state address you provide.

What do you do if you bought a used car recently, but the seller failed to give you a Smog Check certificate and it needs repairs to pass the check? This is a grey area and unfortunately, you may be stuck. You can show the seller the vehicle code and try to resolve the situation together. If the seller is not helpful, you may take him or her to civil court, but there is no guarantee that you will win the judgment or ever see any money.